This is a question that has been asked many times, and the answer is relative to what the buyer wants from a watch. Is it just a time piece, do they need it for a specific sport or for its visual appearance. Appearance can again be either as a costume piece or a highly decorated piece made from gold and fitted with diamonds and other stones.
Another way that buyers look at watches is from an investment point of view. Now we are looking at brands that retain their value and more often than not increase in value substantially. Names like Rolex, Patek Philippe and Omega immediately comes to mind. The initial investment can run into thousands of dollars. The next question is why are these special watches so expensive? Is it a marketing ploy or is there real value into the watch. Watches in this category are called Icon watches or cult watches.
Let’s take Rolex as a perfect example. The Rolex Company was founded in London by Alfred Davis and Hans Wilsdorf in 1905 and in 1919 moved their operation to Geneva, Switzerland. This Swiss based company has been the best known brand for decades. It is still a leading brand sponsoring many popular sporting events throughout the world. The company operated its own foundry to produce and melt gold for producing their cases. The company is a vertical integrated company that produce all the components for their watches under their control. This assists them to improve and maintain their extremely tough standards and reputation as the best watch in the world. They test their watches under extreme conditions, in water to depths beyond which humans can dive. Rolex is involved in many sporting events such as tennis, golf and aviation. Even with their current high selling price and marketing strategy Rolex watches fall into a mid price range. There are more extreme watches available for the discerning investor or buyer.
Patek Philippe is another exclusive brand where many models are never displayed as stock in a jewellery store. They have to be ordered specifically for the client. This is particularly true for the Patek Philippe Nautilus. The slogan for Patek Philippe explains it all. “You never own a Patek Philippe, instead you preserve it for future generations” The Company is 175 years old and is the last family owned watch manufacturer in Geneva. It was founded in 1839 by Antoine Norbert de Patek and Adrien Philippe. It currently holds 80 watch patents.
Having looked at some of the famous brands, people often raise an important question. How can new brands compete in this luxury market? This will require a lot of marketing and innovation over many years to establish themselves in an already established market. Can they oust these market leaders? I don’t think that will be possible. However we have seen many new products enter a market with established manufacturers with smart technology and succeed. However luxury and class is not that easy to convince. People are image conscious and nothing says that as well as Rolex and Patek Philippe.